There's no denying that the world of books is changing. But literature lovers are keeping up. Six years after the birth of the e-book reader Amazon Kindle, we're no longer groaning about the death of traditional books. Even the most die-hard bibliophiles will admit that not only has technology not killed the book, but it also has extended literature's boundaries by creating new forms — and has reached new audiences along the way.
Branch out and discover literature in all its hip, inventive, and tech-savvy glory this year, with our 10 reading resolutions that will change the way you think about and interact with books. Whether you're a print-book fanatic or a Twitter fiend, there's bound (pun intended) to be something in here for you.
Start your free month. Sound familiar? Oyster and Scribd are two new services that have reproduced Netflix's winning business model — for books. And they're duking it out for your business. With major publishing houses represented in each "library," subscribers can access over 100,000 titles at the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen — all for less than $10 a month. And of course, the first month is free. Got a three-week holiday? Start your free reading trial now.
Despite their overwhelming popularity, e-books haven't evolved from mere electronic substitutes for print books — until now. Starting in March 2014, Atavist Books is reinventing the e-book as we know it by commissioning award-winning, critically acclaimed authors like Chris Adrian and Hari Kunzru to write novels with all the multimedia perks of a digital interface in mind. Gone will be the days when you just scroll down to read a story. With Atavist, you can scroll in all directions and pinch, tap, and play videos and music to get to the end of your "book." Atavist's first book will be Sleep Donation, a novel by Karen Russell.
Electric Literature's Recommended Reading is one of many electronic literary magazines out there that is truly worth recommending. A curated weekly magazine that offers story recommendations from great authors and editors, as well as original fiction once a month, Recommended Reading may very well be "the cure for your fiction affliction." It is spearheaded by a team whose mission is to "guide writers and readers through a rapidly evolving publishing landscape" and will show up reliably in your email inbox, e-reader RSS, or smartphone app. A weekly dose of good storytelling never did anyone any harm.
Above: "Todd" by Etgar Keret, a single-sentence animation by Electric Literature.
Because even literature lovers love a good YouTube video. Watch words play on the screen as they would in your imagination through Electric Literature's Single-Sentence Animation Series. Cool animation plus funky music plus beautifully written sentences? And you thought creative writing couldn't get more creative. Subscribe to the YouTube Channel here. If you like these, also make sure to check out Triquarterly's Video Essays.
Next time you're trapped at a boring party where you'd prefer to be a wallflower, whip out your phone — but don't text, Instagram, or Tweet. Read something like Melinda Taub's hilarious "I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled" on McSweeney's Internet Tendency or Jeffrey Eugenides's newest story in the New Yorker. Many literary magazines now offer pretty, user-friendly apps that'll ensure you're never without something to read, as long as your phone still has battery life. Keep your eyes open for new ones in 2014.
Love to surf the web? Like your reading in article-sized bites? Check out webzines. Traditional literary magazines may be struggling, but online literary magazines are flourishing. Nowadays, some of the most innovative and exciting new voices can be found on the internet. Read Guernica or Monkey Bicycle, or mags like Wigleaf dedicated to flash fiction (stories under 1000 words).
Whoever said that Twitter was the #deathofgoodwriting made writers like Jennifer Egan mad. Anyone who's read her New Yorker story "Black Box" (sampled above), or @TejuCole's political Tweets, or @ElliotHolt's Twitter mystery story, knows that literature can happen in less than 140 characters. This year, follow @twitterfiction or the oldest twitterzine @Nanoism. Join the next Twitter Fiction Festival and write some Twitter-fic of your own.
Above: Issue I of HOOT magazine, a (mini) literary magazine delivered monthly on a 4X6 postcard.
Print literary magazines aren't dead either. To compete with the glitzy multimedia capabilities of the internet, print literary magazines have gotten creative. Whether it's flash fiction on postcards like HOOT, stories via fashion on The Safety Pin Review, or magnificent pocket-sized short stories perfect for a subway commute like One Story, find your own non-traditional hard copy literary magazine to support.
Miss bedtime stories? Don't we all? There's nothing quite as comforting as being read to, and new literary audiozines know it. The love child of podcasts and traditional lit mags, audio literary magazines like Bound Off and The Drum are bringing a more intimate literary experience to short story lovers by having the writers read you their own stories. Especially if you love to be read to, make sure you add some literature to your podcast list next year, or another fiction radio program like the New Yorker Fiction Podcast or Selected Shorts.
Finally, amidst all these exciting new literary toys, let's not forget what brought us here in the first place: the good old book. Eyes tired from staring at pixels? Feeling overly hyperactive with a dwindling attention span? Close your Chrome browser and pick up a book — no, not that Kindle/Nook/iPad. That one over there, the one that'll give you a paper cut if you get too excited. Oof. It's heavy. Don't let that stop you. Don't worry about how long it's taking for the pages to pass. Sink into the sentences. Linger on the words. Remember that slow reading can be good for the soul.